Lockheed Martin and Thales Australia have announced they will team to develop an Australian sovereign missile manufacturing capability.
Designed to leverage the Government’s plans to develop sovereign missile capabilities as announced in the 2020 Force Structure Review and more recently in January, the two companies say they will cooperate in the design, development, and production on the surface launched version of Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158C long-range anti-ship missile (LRASM).
Already on order for the RAAF for its F/A-18F fighters and P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft, the LRASM is also being developed for ship-launched applications as the LRASM-SL with the addition of a solid fuel booster and folding control surfaces to enable it to be launched from a Mk41 vertical launch system (VLS) or a stand-alone launcher.
A Lockheed Martin statement says it and Thales Australia have “unique and complementary backgrounds and expertise in the manufacture and delivery of weapons capabilities that together will provide further impetus for the Australian Government’s objective of expanding the sovereign defence industrial and manufacturing capability”.
“This is a step change for future weapons manufacture in Australia – through technology transfer and innovation we see the opportunity to drive the creation of a skilled local workforce, build resiliency in supply chains and help secure Australia’s sovereign defence capabilities for now and into the future,” Lockheed Martin Australia Chief Executive, Joe North said.
“We are delighted to be teaming with Thales Australia and our agreement acknowledges the confidence we have in Thales Australia and its’ strong safety culture in the delivery of weapons capabilities,” he added.
Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins, said the development of booster and rocket motor technology for the LRASM under the teaming agreement with Lockheed Martin was an indicator of the advanced R&D and industrial capabilities offered by Thales Australia to support a sovereign guided weapons manufacturing capability.
“High performance propellants and explosives for warheads, solid fuel rocket motor manufacturing and associated R&D and support services delivered by Thales Australia are essential to achieve sovereign guided weapons capability and we are looking forward to working with Lockheed Martin in support of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) objectives,” Jenkins said.
“Thales currently employs over 650 skilled staff to manufacture munitions systems for the ADF and allied forces. And we work with over 500 Australian small and medium enterprises and a large range of weapons systems Primes to ensure the ADF receives the locally manufactured munitions they need.”
The announcement follows the Government’s March 31 that it intends to support the development of a sovereign guided weapons manufacturing, and sustainment capability.
“Creating our own sovereign capability on Australian soil is essential to keep Australians safe, while also providing thousands of local jobs in businesses right across the defence supply chain,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a March 31 statement. “It’s an imperative we now proceed with the creation of a sovereign guided weapons capability as a priority, accelerating this process following the idea first being explored in the Force Structure Plan.”
New Defence Minister Peter Dutton added, “The manufacturing and supply of weapons in Australia will not only benefit and enhance our ADF operational capacity but will ensure we have adequate supply of weapon stock holdings to sustain combat operations if global supply chains are disrupted.”